After a solid first round of the season, where he took three top six finishes including a podium, Trident’s Clément Novalak is looking to follow up one consistent weekend with another, citing the current Formula 2 Championship as proof of why.
Currently sitting third in the Drivers’ Championship, the French racer finished second, fourth and sixth in the opening round of the Formula 3 season at Barcelona, despite not being fully satisfied with his Qualifying performance.
And after a promising in-season test at Jerez following Round 1, Novalak feels the team have a chance to improve on the result, although the 20-year-old said he would be content with more of the same given how the second tier’s title battle is playing out.
“If you look at F2,” began Novalak, “a lot of the guys who made no mistakes in the earlier parts of the championship have now had either a crash or a mechanical failure or some sort of tangle that slipped them back.
“You’ve now got six guys within 20 points who could win and take the lead in the F2 Championship. Looking at that, I think the goal is to be as consistent as possible with the best results that you can achieve. I (want) to start from the front, make some moves, and enjoy.
“We found a lot at the test in Jerez and developed the car. I am looking forward to this weekend because I think we can come in with some good confidence and at least do the same, if not better. The main thing that we need to improve on, especially for Paul Ricard, is Qualifying. That is where I think we lacked the most, but the race pace was definitely there.”
Growing up just 30-minutes from Paul Ricard, in Aix-En-Provence, Novalak has plenty of memories from the Le Castellet-based circuit, even if he hasn’t been there for a few years.
“It's a home race. I grew up not far from there,” said Novalak. “I remember my dad telling me stories about the track because he had driven there when he was younger. He used to do the Clio Cup in France and he took a car around the track, although I don't know if he ever raced there.
“He's been there a fair few times though and we went to see car shows there when I was younger. We’ve also been to see endurance racing there, and I think we went to watch an F1 test at one point as well, so there are a fair few flashbacks.
“I have tested there, and I raced there in Formula Renault a long time ago, although I haven't been back since. I like the track, apart from the tarmac everywhere, which is a bit bland, but overall, it’s really cool. Especially the first section of the track, turns one and two, and then three, four and five, it is quite flowy and quite narrow, so you have to be super precise. iI's a big challenge.”
Novalak raced under a British License in 2020 but switched to French ahead of the 2021 campaign. Explaining the reasoning behind his decision, Novalak said he’s proud to be representing his country.
“I am French born and I have always felt like it is my home,” said Novalak. “A lot of people asked me why I changed this year and for me, it was a natural step to take because I was born in France, and the further you go up the ladder, the more you’re representing your country. The change was in line with what I wanted to do now that I am on an international stage.
I consider myself French at heart, but European because I take from wherever I go.
“Being under the British license was nice because the UK has taught me my whole professional life around racing because it’s where I went from karts to cars. That is a big step and a big learning curve in terms of how to become more professional as a person and as a driver as well.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my move to the UK because it helped me to develop in that sense. I consider myself French at heart, but European because I take from wherever I go.”